ANIME FANS Community Theme Of The Month: The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya
The theme for the community's first month is The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Beginning as a series of light novels penned by Nagaru Tanigawa (Let's Leave the School; The Guardian of My World) and illustrated by Noizi Ito (Alice Parade; Shakugan No Shana), the series has become a global phenomenon, with an anime television adaptation, a radio drama adaptation, two manga adaptations and numerous other items in the retail market world, including (but not limited to) PVC figurines and statuettes, video games, music CDs, keychains and more.
Click here for a list of the titles of the light novels and the television episodes.
Kyon is a typical high school student, whose skepticism is often at war with his imagination. He is the narrator of the series and introduces us to the people and world around him, while never once revealing his real name ("Kyon" being just a nickname, and one he actually doesn't particularly care for). Coincidentally, his first day in class finds him seated at the desk just before that of...
Haruhi Suzumiya, a remarkably intelligent but impulsive and brash girl. Haruhi is deeply depressed and bored with life, wanting something far more interesting and special than the same sort of existence everyone else has. It is her wish to meet and befriend such beings as espers, time travelers, aliens, sliders and, in her own words, "have fun with them!" Kyon, in his attempts to explain what geniuses due to make differences in their world, inadvertently gives Haruhi the inspiration to create her own club, the S.O.S. Brigade, in order to seek out the beings she wishes to meet. Of course, Haruhi's odd behavior and vague description of her fledgling club don't exactly have students busting down the door to get in, so she takes it upon herself to force other students to join, beginning with Kyon.
Mikuru Asahina, a shy upperclassman, is brought by Haruhi into the club as its official mascot, due to her "moe characteristics": a cute face and big breasts. Haruhi proceeds to make Mikuru her plaything, groping her at the drop of a hat and dressing her up in various cute outfits. While Mikuru suffers repeated embarrassment and distress at Haruhi's hands, she willingly chooses to stay in the club, much to Kyon's confusion.
Because the club needs its own room, they decide to occupy the room formerly used by the Literary Club, which currently only has one member:
Yuki Nagato, a silent bookworm. Yuki has absolutely no objections to the S.O.S. Brigade using the room (or to the possibility of getting caught up in Haruhi's antics) and becomes a member of the Brigade simply by her presence alone. Yuki doesn't even object to her glasses being swiped by Haruhi so Mikuru can wear them for a photo shoot; she keeps right on reading as though nothing is different. Kyon attempts to converse with her, though his efforts prove repeatedly fruitless as she gives very brief answers (when she chooses to answer at all).
Koizumi Itsuki is brought in soon afterwards so the Brigade can have the five-member count required for the Brigade to be recognized as an official school club. Like Mikuru, Itsuki doesn't resist joining the club, but unlike Mikuru, he doesn't seem bothered by it, either. His perpetual smile and yes-man behavior quickly get on Kyon's nerves.
Kyon himself isn't sure what compels him to stay in the club, though he feels his presence would prevent Mikuru or Yuki from coming to harm at Haruhi's hands. However, it is only when Yuki surprisingly decides to confide in him that he learns the club's members, including Haruhi herself, are far more than what they appear to be...
The television series is notable for telling its story out of chronological sequence (the U.S. DVD release puts the episodes in chronological order, though bonus discs do contain the original broadcast order), saving the story's more dramatic moments for later episodes and slowly building towards a climax that practically eliminates the last bit of skepticism in Kyon's mind. The series uses a combination of science fiction, philosophy, humor and mild fan service, making it a bit tricky to categorize it in any one single genre.
NOTABLE SONGS FROM THE SERIES "God Knows..." - performed by Aya Hirano; peaked at #5 on Japan's Oricon Chart "Hare Hare Yukai" (lit. "Sunny Sunny Fun") - performed by Aya Hirano, Minori Chihara and Yuko Goto; peaked at #5 on Japan's Oricon Chart "Saikyo Pare Parade" - performed by Aya Hirano, Minori Chihara and Yuko Goto; peaked at #9 on Japan's Oricon Chart (song was featured in the radio dramas)
VIDEOS Click here to view the full animation for the song "Hare Hare Yukai".
Click here to view a CGI version of the dance, as featured in the Playstation 2 game The Perplexity of Haruhi Suzumiya.
REACTION From the first time I viewed the first episode, I was instantly hooked. This series quickly became one of my all-time favorites and ranks in the Top Five of my personal list of anime. While some argue that the characters are the usual stereotypical sorts common to modern anime and that the series "tries too hard to be deep", I can't help but love the characters (especially Haruhi; got a crush on her) and the nicely-layered story, which manages to be smart without being unnecessarily complex. The music is catchy and the songs are a permanent part of my mp3 collection (no, I didn't download them; I bought the CDs), with "Hare Hare Yukai" and "Saikyo Pare Parade" being my favorites. The series makes me laugh, Itsuki's philosphical ramblings are intriguing and the touching scene in which Haruhi opened up to Kyon and revealed the source of her melancholy moved me. (And there's a certain powerful kissing scene that gets me every time I see it.) If I had one complaint about this series, it would be that it's only 14 episodes long. I can't wait for Series Two!
Discussion of this series is welcome and encouraged! Please share your thoughts!